Frequently Asked Questions
Why use Toscana Verde?
If you want to buy an Italian property...
- We assist non-Italian buyers purchase property
offered for sale by licensed Italian agents. This offers all
of the advantages of dealing directly with a local Italian agent
while avoiding any potential language or cultural problems.
- We are not employed by the vendor. This allows us to be scrupulously
honest in our property descriptions and allows us to assist
in price negotiations.
- No Sale, No fee. We are happy
to provide as much help and support as you need before, during
and after purchase.
- We list a selection of properties for sale that
we believe will be of interest to our clients and where we are happy that
there are no legal or financial problems attached - something
very common in Italy.
We don't simply re-market lists of properties from a large number of Italian agents, but personally inspect each property before deciding whether to get involved. Although this is extremely time-consuming and means we can't claim to have "Hundreds of properties available" or describe ourselves as the "Biggest agent in the area" it means we can describe each property, honestly and in detail and help you decide if a particular property is likely to be suitable for your viewing shortlist.
- As it is unusual for properties to be offered
to a single agent in Italy (Italian agents rarely discount their
fees to the vendor for Sole Agency/Exclusive placings) we can
often provide information and arrange viewings of properties
listed by other agents working in our area - or let you know
why we have chosen not to list that property.
- If you decide to visit Italy to view one or
more properties listed by us your viewings will be conducted
by a licensed, registered and English-speaking property agent
(mediatore.) We don't organise or charge for "property viewing tours", but will happily assist with advice on flights, local transport and accommodation.
Italian agents are qualified professionals, registered by their local chamber of commerce, who work for both vendor and purchaser and who are responsible for any claims they make about a property.
We don't use local English-speaking, unlicensed, 'representatives' to show property or to provide translation for Italian-speaking agents. Many of these are employed by the day and paid a commission if they make a sale. There is no legal responsibility or incentive for such "employees" to provide accurate information and we strongly recommend that you avoid businesses that work in that way.
- We can arrange professional services to assist
you in the purchase, management and, if required, rebuilding
of Italian property and use our local contacts to help us find
the correct person for each job. It is often our experience
that businesses that advertise the use of geometra X or builder
Y usually do this because of family and/or financial links between
them, rather than their suitability for the job in hand.
- We understand Italian property law, planning
regulations and local building methods and can clearly explain
these so that our clients understand their rights and responsibilities.
- Our pricing is transparent.
Our costs are low as we don't pay for advertising, rent luxury
offices, or exhibit at "foreign
property" shows. A sizeable percentage of our new clients
come from people who have had Toscana Verde recommended to them
by previous clients.
If you are looking for someone to manage your property...
Wherever possible we use responsible local people to provide property management services. This is both cost-effective for you and provides a source of local employment. Our standard property management service costs 400 euro/year. A basic bill payment and emergency cover service is available at a lower cost, and we can quote for other services as required.
If you are looking for a builder of other tradesperson...
We can help you find the right person for the job, and provide supervision to your requirements. We don't select them because of family connections, or because they will pay us a commission for finding them work.
If you are looking for a property to rent...
We can arrange affordable house and apartment rentals for periods ranging from three days to six months or more. We can arrange weekly rentals that don't need to run Saturday-Saturday, allowing the use of off-peak airfares, and can offer property where pets are welcome. Please let us know your requirements.
How do I find out more or arrange a viewing?
Please look at our list of properties for sale. If you want to know more about any property or if you have any questions about the the area, the buying process or arranging renovation please don't hesitate to contact us.
Once you have one or more properties you want to view we can advise on travel and accommodation in the area and arrange an appointment with a local agent. As all viewings are arranged with an English-speaking, highly knowledgeable and licensed real-estate agent.
We prefer to spend time talking with you before your trip to determine the best sort of property for you to see so you can make the best use of your time in the area. Before you leave for Italy we will agree with you a list of the properties you will see and make a firm appointment as to the time and place of meeting our agent. As the agent will be on time for your appointment we would appreciate if you could let us know if you need to cancel the appointment, or if you think you may be late arriving.
Feel free to call even if you can't see anything you like. We always know of other property available in the area. In addition, we can use our local contacts to locate property that meets your requirements.
Can you help me sell my property?
Not directly - as we provide a service only to buyers. We can introduce you to a reliable local agent who will be pleased to help you sell your property.
Why doesn't the web site identify the exact locations of properties for sale?
Italy does not have a tradition of "sole agency" or "exclusive" agreements between vendor and agent. When our local agents do find good value properties they often ask us not to advertise their exact location on our website as it is common for other agents to attempt to identify the property and approach the vendor. This neither aids prospective buyers, as interest shown in a property often encourages the vendor to increase their asking price, or indeed the vendor, as the higher price makes the property harder to sell. We will, of course, tell you the location of any property if you ask!!
Did I see one of your properties advertised elsewhere?
This is very possible. Please see the preceding answer. If the prices are different this is generally because another agent has added a margin to the price, or because the vendor has increased or decreased the price without informing all of the agents thy have placed it with. If you find any property we are offering listed at a different price elsewhere please let us know so we can find out why and let you know.
I thought Tuscany was expensive - Why is there so much cheap property on the site?
There is a huge oversupply of property is rural Italy. The main reason for this is that the local population is now much lower than it was in the first half of the Twentieth Century. The area is primarily agricultural and improvments in mechanization meant there were fewer jobs available which caused many people to move abroad to find work. Outside of heavily-touristed areas such as Chianti and along the Versilian coastline there are still good bargains available.
Is Italian property a good investment?
Prices are static and the large amount of rural property available along with the costs of buying and selling make it unlikely that dealing in Italian property is a quick route to a fortune. However, should you sell at some point in the future it is unlikely that you will make a loss.
Can I make money through renting my property?
Some people are very successful at this - mainly those with larger properties and who are very good at marketing.
Keep in mind that most people looking to rent a holiday property do this during the school summer holidays, although there is also usually some business to be had at Easter and at the spring and autumn half-term holiday weeks. As the area is also close to Abetone, a ski resort, it is also possible to arrange winter rentals if the house has good road access and central heating.
As a rough rule of thumb we estimate that the maximum the average owner manages is around 10 weeks rental per year. This is would be reduced if you wanted to use the property yourself during July or August.
This can be greatly increased with good marketing on your part, for example by renting to it friends, advertising on a company intranet, club magazine etc. Our advice is that while a few weeks rental per year will easily cover your annual running costs we would not recommend that you buy a property solely to earn rental income.
Are all the properties on the website still for sale?
As far as we are aware all the properties listed on the website are available at the price quoted. The site is updated whenever a property is sold, an offer submitted or accepted, or if the vendor decides to take the property off the market. You can check when the site was last updated by looking at the left margin of any page. As some properties are with multiple agents and as agents don't always remember to tell us that they're sold or taken the property off the market we can't guarantee this. If you know where one of our listings is wrong please do let us know.
Why do you list so few properties on your web site?
We only list property we have personally viewed and where we are sure it is genuinely available at the price asked, where we consider that it offers value for money, that the vendor has good title and seriously wants to sell, rather than is just testing the market, and where we understand the paperwork for the property is correct and up-to-date. By avoiding properties that fail these tests we save your time - and ours.
Companies that list hundreds of properties for sale usually achieve this by entering into partnership agreements with dozens of Italian agents and simply republishing their property information. We don't work this way as this would make it impossible to discuss properties that we hadn't seen and because the great probability that many of these partner agents would not be able to provide services to the standards we expect to offer.
Why do you offer so many properties needing work?
Because they offer excellent value for money. The majority of these are very keenly priced and can be turned into exactly what you want. We can arrange for any building work to be done to your requirements through our network of architects and builders. As we realize this involves some trust on your part we are happy to pass on contact details of clients who have previously worked with us who have volunteered to share their experiences.
I'm looking for a property in a different part of Italy. Can you help?
We only offer for sale properties in the area to the north of Lucca, a very beautiful, but less well-known part of Italy. By restricting ourselves to a small area we can visit all of the properties before offering them for sale and keep in-touch with the agents, tradesmen and other professionals we use for our property management, building and maintenance services.
However, we can also provide assistance if you are buying a house from another agent, or directly from a vendor, either in the area in which we work or in other parts of Italy.
How safe is the buying process in Italy
A) Italian property law is very well established and provides good protection for both parties if the sale is properly arranged.
All property transactions in Italy must take place in front of a Notaio (notary public.) The notaio's job is to check that the sale documents are correct, to verify the identities of the parties involved, to collect the tax on the sale due to the Italian government(!) and to ensure that the entries in the land registry are updated to show the new owner.
Before this happens we check the land registry to ensure that the property is correctly registered to the vendor, that the property is registered as either a residential property, or in the case of property that isn't at present a dwelling, for example a barn, that the required change-of-use permissions are forthcoming, that essential services are available, that there are no undisclosed rights-of-way through the property, no outstanding mortgages or other loans on the property (all of which would transfer to the new owner) and to generally ensure that you are buying what you expect. Once we are happy with all this we pass this information to the notaio who draws up the sale document and becomes legally responsible for the claims made by the vendor.
While it is possible to arrange a "private" sale (scrittura privata) between a purchaser and a vendor (without a guarantee of the safeguards listed above) this offers virtually no protection to the purchaser. We would never recommend that any foreign buyer buys a property in this way, and would suggest that you should be very suspicious of any agent or vendor who suggests this course of action to you.
How long does it take to buy a property in Italy?
As we generally run the majority of the checks listed above before offering a property for sale we can usually move from an accepted offer to a completed sale in around 3-4 weeks if both parties are ready, the final check on the paperwork shows up no last-minute problems and a notaio is available to produce the sale documents and to witness the sale.
If you would like us to manage the purchase of a property found from another agent or directly from a vendor this process may take longer as we often find the paperwork for the property is not correct or up-to-date and that this needs to be rectified before the sale for your protection.
What will my purchase costs be?
In addition to the Toscana Verde fee of 3% of the purchase price (the standard buyer's commision in Italy) you also need to pay the fees of the notaio and for a geometra (surveyor) to run the legal checks and searches listed above. We arrange all of this on your behalf. You also pay various taxes to the Italian government.
In practice all of these will generally add somewhere between 9% and 13% to the sale price - of which the great majority is tax.
The tax paid is reduced if the property is being bought as your primary residence (not a holiday home). This may be the case if you are permanently relocating to Italy and plan to obtain resident status within a maximum of 18 months from purchase.
Do I need to sign a pre-contract (Compromesso or similar)?
We can arrange one if you wish or if the vendor insists on this.
Italian property law allows a range of pre-contracts where the purchaser pays a deposit on a property that they wish to buy to stop the vendor selling elsewhere, perhaps while the purchaser raises the money, or runs checks on the property to ensure that it is sound.
This is obviously to the purchaser's advantage if you are considering buying in a lively market where there is a danger the property will sell while you are getting organised. As we can generally arrange completion quickly, have the selling agent inform the vendor that we have a prospective purchaser and ask them to take the property off the market in most cases, signing a pre-contract will simply involve you in further delays and legal costs.
Do I need to personally attend the sale?
Italian property sales are usually enacted in the office of the notaio overseeing the sale and in the presence of both the vendor and purchaser. If you can't, or prefer not to, personally attend the sale we can send you a "power-of-attorney" request and use a third party to represent you. You will need to get the request witnessed by an Italian government official or an authorised notary public or similar person in your home country and return it to us before the sale.
In practice the majority of our clients do personally attend the sale, accompanied by our representative, and we would be delighted to welcome you if you chose to do this.
Do I need to use a lawyer to represent my interests?
The notaio overseeing the sale works for neither buyer or seller. However, he or she is responsible for seeing that sale is correctly carried out, that the new ownership is correctly registered and will generally becomes legally responsibility for any claims made by the vendor in the sale document. Our geometra (qualified in matters concerning land and property transactions) ensures your basic needs are met.
Around 5% of our clients choose to use a lawyer. If you are planning to do this please let us know as soon as possible so we can ensure that they are kept fully informed.
How can I look after my property when I'm not there?
We can provide a wide range of offerings from a simple and inexpensive bill payment service to a full management and maintenance service for properties being offered for weekly rental. We can arrange cleaning, gardening and maintenance services either on a regular basis or on request. For more details of our services please see the Property Care page. Nearly everyone who has purchased a property through us uses one of our management services.
Where can I find information about moving to Italy?
There are several books on the subject listed in our bookshop which provide some information, so reading a selection of these is a good start.
If you would like a private discussion about relocation either in your home, in our offices in the UK or by phone, we can arrange this for a fixed fee. Please call to make an appointment.
If you have any particular questions you can ask these by email or phone, or join our online discussion forum and ask them there.
Not answered your question?
Please contact us and ask away!